John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 4:9 - 4:9

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 4:9 - 4:9


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9.How dost thou, who art a Jew? This is a reproach, by which she retorts upon him the contempt which was generally entertained by his nation. The Samaritans are known to have been the scum of a people gathered from among foreigners. Having corrupted the worship of God, and introduced many spurious and wicked ceremonies, they were justly regarded by the Jews with detestation. Yet it cannot be doubted that the Jews, for the most part, held out their zeal for the law as a cloak for their carnal hatred; for many were actuated more by ambition and envy, and by displeasure at seeing the country which had been allotted to them occupied by the Samaritans, than by grief and uneasiness because the worship of God had been corrupted. There was just ground for the separation, provided that their feelings had been pure and well regulated. For this reason Christ, when he first sends the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel, forbids them to turn aside to the Samaritans, (Mat_10:5.)

But this woman does what is natural to almost all of us; for, being desirous to be held in esteem, we take very ill to be despised. This disease of human nature is so general, that every person wishes that his vices should please others. If any man disapproves of us, or of any thing that we do or say, (73) we are immediately offended without any good reason. Let any man examine himself, and he will find this seed of pride in his mind, until it has been eradicated by the Spirit of God. This woman, therefore, knowing that the superstitions of her nation were condemned by the Jews, now offers an insult to them in the person of Christ.

For the Jews hold no intercourse with the Samaritans. These words I consider to have been uttered by the woman. Others suppose that the Evangelist added them for the sake of explanation, and, indeed, it is of little consequence which meaning you prefer. But I think it more natural to believe that the woman jeers at Christ in this manner: “ Is it lawful for you to ask drink from me, when you hold us to be so profane?” If any prefer the other interpretation, I do not dispute the point. Besides, it is possible that the Jews carried their abhorrence of the Samaritans beyond proper bounds; for as we have said that they applied to an improper purpose a false pretense of zeal, so it was natural for them to go to excess, as almost always happens with those who give way to wicked passions.

(73) “Et qui reprouve ce que nous disons ou faisons.”